Liverpool’s title credentials will get the ultimate test when they travel to third-placed Manchester City in the pick of the Boxing Day fixture programme.
Brendan Rodgers’ side finished top at Christmas for the first time since 2008, but the Liverpool manager insists City remain the ones to beat.
“I still believe the title is Manchester City’s to lose,” Rodgers said.
“They have the strongest squad. The resources they have are incredible.” Despite Liverpool’s best start to a season for several years, Rodgers has been preaching caution.
Striker Luis Suarez has scored 19 goals in Liverpool’s surge to top spot.
Rodgers has been praised for moulding a young team, but the manager said he still had a long way to go.
“We can’t ever think we have cracked it,” he said. “We can’t become complacent. You have to be focused and move on to the next game.
“We are very calm. We are not getting carried away. We are focusing on improving our performance level.
“We know the natural consequence will be to win games and if you win games you will be in a good position.” City manager Manuel Pellegrini will be without star striker Sergio Aguero through injury and admitted his side’s focus will be on stopping Suarez.
“It will be very difficult because Liverpool are a very good team and Suarez is in a very good moment,” he said.
Only two points separate the top five in the league and Arsenal, Chelsea and Everton will be looking to take advantage of any dropped points between Manchester City and Liverpool.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger takes his team to West Ham, looking to lift his side out of a mini bad patch, having topped the table by five points earlier in the month.
Two draws and a defeat by Manchester City dropped them back to the same points total as Liverpool.
“We are going through a patch that is a bit more difficult, I agree with you,” Wenger said, responding to questions as to their form.
“But part of a successful season is how well you deal with that. I must say the spirit of the players is unbelievably focused, we have a great desire.
“We go through a period where it’s a bit more difficult but with that spirit we’ll come out of that.”
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho described the title race as “unbelievable” after his side’s 0-0 draw with Arsenal on Monday night.
The London side take on Swansea on Boxing Day with Mourinho encouraged by their fourth position in the table, if not entirely by the manner of their performances.
“OK, we don’t go to Christmas as leaders, but we go with evolution because last season the championship was already lost by this point.”
“Now, we are there. We are completely alive, especially if you compare it with this point last season where Chelsea were 11 points behind,” he said.
Fifth-placed Everton take on bottom side Sunderland as they continue their push for a Champions League spot while Tottenham and Manchester United will be out to close the gap on the top five.
Tim Sherwood will take charge of Spurs officially for the first time, at home to West Bromwich Albion, while champions United are away to Hull City.
Crystal Palace will be hoping to escape the bottom three for the first time this season by winning at Aston Villa while second-bottom Fulham travel to Norwich.
Cardiff take on Southampton and Newcastle play Stoke City in the day’s other matches.